(the same day West Virginia became a state). When Lee’s troops advanced into Maryland and Pennsylvania
the Eighth was ordered out and assigned to Averell’s
brigade. They operated against “Mudwall” Jackson around
Strasburg, Franklin, Monteray,
Huntersville and Hillsboro
along with with many other minor battles. Regimental papers also show the regiment at
Grafton in June, Beverly on July 2 and 3, Huttonsville
July 4, Cumberland, Maryland July 7, Hedgesville July 18 and
Martinsburg July 18 and 19, 1863. They
left with Averell on his raid through Hardy,
Pendleton, Highland, Bath, Greenbrier, and Pocahontas counties in
August 1863. Not many records were kept
but the information that is available shows the troops at Huntersville August
22, Warm Springs August 24, Jackson River August 25, Rocky Gap near the town of White Sulphur
Springs August 26 and 27. The men camped
at Martinsburg until November 1863 at which time General Averell
took the Eighth with him on his raid against Lewisburg and the Virginia and Tennessee
Railroad. During the raid they were at
Mill Point, Battle of Droop Mountain and Skirmishes at Covington, Virginia.
The Battle of Droop Mountain took place on November 6,
1863 in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. General Averell’s
veteran army, numbering between five and six thousand men, was composed of many
West Virginia and Ohio units including the Eighth. The Confederate Army, headed by General John
Echols, had around two thousand troops.
Both sides received heavy casualties, including heavy losses by the
Confederate 22nd Virginia Infantry which was also made up of men from the
counties surrounding the Kanawha
Valley. This is the one battle in West Virginia that brother literally faced
brother. The Federal troops reported 30
killed and wounded at Droop
Mountain while the 22nd
Confederate lost 113 of its 550 men.
The Salem Raid
There was no single incident during the Civil War that
caused more suffering than did the Salem Raid which took place in mid-December
1863. Union General Burnside was
besieged at Knoxville, Tennessee by Confederate General
was ordered to raise the siege by cutting off Longstreet’s supplies and directed to
cut the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad Line interrupting communications
between Richmond and Knoxville.
He was ordered to do this “at all hazards” even if it meant the
destruction or capture of his entire army.
When the order was given, Averell’s army , mostly West Virginians, was stationed at New Creek
(now Keyser WV).
They started the march on December 8, 1863 but did not have sufficient
time to shoe all the horses before starting.
they were told to finish the job on the road
whenever an opportunity was presented but these opportunities did not come
The course selected was almost a straight line from New
Creek, through Petersburg, Franklin,
Monterey, Back Creek, Gatewood’s
Callaghan’s, Sweet Sulphur Spring, New
Castle to Salem. Most of the way they followed the general
line of the summit of the Alleghenies. The command of approximately thirty-three
hundred men reached Monterey
on December 11. On December 14 they were
County, but east of the
At two o’clock on the morning of December 15 they pushed
up Dunlap Creek “in a night as dark as a dungeon.” A ride of eight hours brought the troops to
Sweet Sulphur Valley were a halt was made to make
coffee and feed and rest the horses before the dash into Salem which they hoped
to reach by daylight the next morning.
When Averell’s men were a short
distance from Salem,
he sent in three hundred fifty horsemen and two rifled cannons. They went into Salem on a dead run, with little
resistance. When the remainder of the
force came up, detachments were sent four miles east and twelve miles west to
destroy the railroad and bridges.
Sixteen miles of track were torn up.
The ties were stacked in piles with the rails placed on tip and set on
fire. The rails were melted and twisted
by the heat making it impossible to use them to repair the track. They also destroyed supply warehouses and
depots, water tanks, and railroad cars stored on side tracks.
General Averell’s mission was
the hard part was yet to come. He had to
elude the twelve thousand Confederate troops that surrounded him and get his army back to his own
camp. They halted for the night seven miles from Salem. The troops were exhausted